Dead Butt Syndrome: What is it?

Workers who are required to sit for prolonged periods run the risk of developing dead butt syndrome, otherwise known as gluteal amnesia. Gluteal amnesia occurs when your gluteus medius muscle becomes inflamed and fails to function normally.

The more often this happens, the more likely you are to develop several serious health issues. Sitting for too long each day leaves you vulnerable to developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer if you do not take steps to incorporate further movement into your daily schedule.

You are not intrinsically at risk of developing a serious health issue simply because you suffer from dead butt syndrome, although it is advisable to treat the symptoms associated with this problem once they have been identified. When you fail to properly engage your gluteus medius and gluteus maximus, you restrict blood flow throughout your body and leave yourself prone to developing ongoing aches and pains, which strain your muscles both in the short- and long-term.

What are the symptoms of dead butt syndrome?

When you experience gluteal amnesia, you experience a sensation similar to the feeling of having a body part fall asleep. Referred to as paresthesia, this pins and needles sensation can cause your glutes to feel slightly numb due to a loss of blood flow. Dead butt syndrome occurs in varying degrees depending upon the severity of your paresthesia. Once your muscles enter a state of paresthesia, the tissues found in your gluteus compress, which causes the ongoing sensation of your glutes being asleep. The longer your tissues are compressed, the lower your glute function becomes. As your glute function deteriorates, you become more prone to developing serious health issues.

Related Article: 4 Ways To Improve Your Posture While Sitting At Work Or In Class

An added symptom of dead butt syndrome, and a side-effect induced by muscle compression, is the development of ongoing aches throughout your body. When you are suffering from gluteal amnesia, you may experience backaches, hip pain and persistent issues with your ankle flexibility. This develops due to the lack of movement through your gluteus maximus. When you fail to engage your glutes properly, it causes other muscles throughout your body to work harder to compensate for this lack of stimulus. The smaller muscles in your body, such as the ones located in your lower back or near your hip, are tasked with completing the essential functions of the gluteus maximus, which ultimately causes the additional strain. This is referred to as synergistic dominance.

As your smaller muscles continue to complete these essential functions, your gluteus maximus becomes weaker over time. The weaker your gluteus maximus is, the more frequently you experience the symptoms of gluteal amnesia. Without re-introducing proper stimulus to the gluteus muscles, you run the risk of suffering from long-term health effects due to the constriction of your major muscles.

What are the side-effects of dead butt syndrome?

Once you have developed dead butt syndrome, you are more likely to suffer from immobility and joint pain. If left untreated, then these issues may develop into arthritis or cause further injury to the affected areas of your body. When you fail to activate your muscles properly, conditions such as arthritis occur because your body is trying to protect itself against damage. To protect these affected areas from further damage, arthritis causes your joints or bones to become immobilized. This process is amplified if you already suffer from gluteal amnesia as you are sustaining long-term damage to your muscles through inactivity.

In addition to becoming more susceptible to developing arthritis, sitting for prolonged periods increases your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Lack of movement throughout the day restricts blood flow throughout your body and causes a build-up of fat, which leads to the development of these harmful diseases.

How do you prevent dead butt syndrome?

Those who suffer from muscle stiffness in the hips are more susceptible to developing dead butt syndrome, as improper flexibility is one of the leading causes of this issue. To prevent these problems from arising, adopt a healthier lifestyle with added mobility and a better diet. Simply opting to head to the gym after a long work day is not a sufficient tactic in fending off gluteal amnesia nor does it help to prevent the development of heart disease or arthritis. Take frequent breaks throughout the day to get up and moving around your office or workspace. Researchers recommend incorporating 10 minutes of movement per every hour you spend sitting at your desk.

By taking frequent breaks throughout the day, you are ensuring your gluteus maximus and other essential muscles are receiving the proper amount of activity needed to prevent health issues. There are several exercises to adopt during these periods of exercise, each of which is easily completable at home or at the office depending upon where you work each day. These exercises include:

  • Squats, specifically wide stance jump squats, target the glute muscles most commonly affected by dead butt syndrome. To properly complete a wide stance jump squat, stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Once you have taken this stance, squat down until you have reached a 90-degree angle in relation to the floor. Then, use your glute muscles and quads to jump as high as possible before landing back into a squatted position.
  • Side steps are most effective when completed with the use of an exercise band. To complete this exercise, place the band around your ankles, then bend your knees and begin walking sideways. Take 10 steps in one direction and then take 10 steps in the other direction. Repeat this exercise a few times throughout the day to help strengthen both your gluteus maximus and your gluteus minimus.
  • Side lunges are effective in strengthening your quads, hamstrings and glutes. To complete a side lunge, stand with your feet together and then step out as widely as possible to the right side while bending your right knee until it reaches a 90-degree angle to the floor. Be sure to keep your left leg straight while your right leg is bent. Repeat this process on the opposite side.

Completing additional exercises such as kettlebell squats, lateral step ups and running help to alleviate the symptoms associated with dead butt syndrome and may help the issue from developing further.

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